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Dish to dig into

July 06, 2003

Christy Rowles of Hagerstown figures she started to cook when she was about 11, mostly just helping her mother. She's the oldest of nine children - five boys and four girls. Rowles laughs that her mom needed lots of help.

She was about 13 when she started cooking on her own, beginning with breakfasts and soups for lunch.

When she was 13 also was the time her family moved to Maryland from the Chicago area. She attended Clear Spring High School for two years and graduated from Cumberland Valley Christian School in Chambersburg, Pa. That's where she met her husband, Trenton Rowles. They will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary in August.

Christy Rowles recalls some more formal lessons from her mother - etiquette, table settings, creating a menu.

Staff Writer Kate Coleman recently sat with Rowles in the comfortable living room of her out-in-the-country home. Her youngest son, Ashton, sporting black cowboy boots (in a 4-year-old's on-the-wrong-feet fashion) asked Staff Photographer Joe Crocetta if he had come for the Hot Pizza Dip his mom had prepared.

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"I don't like onions," the boy volunteered about the dip's scallion garnish. Conner Rowles, 8, does like green onions, and his older brother, Taylor, admits, with a little coaxing from his mom, that he likes them more than he used to.

"I don't want them to become picky," Rowles says of her boys and eating. She encourages them to try different foods.

Rowles does the bookkeeping for her husband's business, Hagerstown Tire Service, and works with Mary Kay cosmetics. She also works occasionally at an area pediatric practice.

How often are you in the kitchen?

All my friends will laugh if they read this, because it's a big joke. I'm not in the kitchen very often.

I average three evening meals (per week). Breakfast and lunch is when I'm in there every day.

Does your husband cook?

No.

So you don't eat?

We eat out. We love Mexican and Italian.

Do you like to cook?

Mm-hmm. Well ... you know. But not all the time. I'm just sort of busy.

What's your favorite thing to cook?

That would be an old family recipe. Steak Burritos is what we call it. It's like a steak gravy with soft flour tortillas.

It's not been a written-down thing. It's just something my grandmother taught my mom and my mom taught me. It's from New Mexico, where my dad was born.

Where did you get the recipe for the pizza dip?

From my friend Jill Gaylor. It's one of her favorites, too.

Why do you make this recipe? What makes it successful?

It's easy. It's very easy, and everybody likes it - everybody loves it.

Do you make this for your family?

Most times I do it for a party. Sometimes we do have it (at home). It's an easy, quick thing because you have the items on hand. We usually have it with Italian bread. We kind of chunk off - tear pieces off the Italian loaf - or with tortilla chips.

Does your family have a favorite?

Probably they'd say the steak burritos.

Do you have a favorite thing you like to eat?

I absolutely love the steak burritos.

I like to make - and I love to eat - peach cobbler.

Does your husband like to cook?

Yes, he likes to cook breakfast. He likes to do Sunday mornings - pancakes, waffles, bacon or sausage.

Your oldest boy, Taylor, is 10. Does he ever help in the kitchen?

He's helped. I've had him do soups - more like watching things.

And they all want to have a part in something.

I don't know about the fascination with kids cracking eggs. They always want to be the one to crack the eggs.

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